The Dangers of Mouth Breathing
Have you been told that you are a “mouth breather”?
What does this means, and what harm could it be doing to your health? Mouth breathing is a serious matter…
There are many causes and reasons why people mouth breath including nasal blockages, anxiety, chronic allergies, large tonsils, nasal polyps, deviated nasal septum, constricted upper airways, or a backward positioned lower jaw caused by thumb sucking, excessive dummy use or insufficient suckling as an infant
From birth, we are born to breathe naturally through our nose. When we get a cold or stuffy it or blocked nose it makes it hard to breath and usually hard to sleep.
The dangers of mouth breathing:
If we suffer from conditions like asthma, hay fever, chronic sinusitis and sleep apnoea these often result in chronic mouth breathing as being able to breathe through the nose becomes compromised and limited the longer these conditions go on.
Just how bad is it to be a mouth-breather?
Mouth breathing increases the carbon dioxide (CO2) levels and limits oxygen supply to the vital organs. When CO2 levels increase our body tries to correct that so our blood vessels constrict, decreasing blood flow and ironically this reduces the capacity of the oxygen-carrying red blood cells to reach our tissues.
A reduction in blood flow to various parts of our body can lead to many symptoms and issues.
Problem Caused By Mouth Breathing
1. Poor Jaw Growth: mouth breath alters the position of the tongue and lips against the teeth and jaws so the muscles do not push evenly on the growing bones bending them out of shape. Most commonly the lower jaw ends up being small and too far back.
2. Narrow Airway: Enlarged tonsils and adenoids can result from mouth breathing causing a blockage to the airway. The tongue is too far back due to the position of the lower jaw and this also limits airflow and narrows the air passages.
3. Head Forward Posture: The head postures forward to get more air through the mouth and this creates a large load on the upper back and neck muscles, which causes problems effect affecting the back, neck, shoulders, hips, knees and feet as well as TMJ problems.
4. Lowered Immune System and Poor Health: Nasal breathing produces a hormone that regulates normal blood circulation. It also filters, warms and moisturises the air. The lack of oxygen in mouth breathers, who usually snore at night and struggle for air, weakens the immune system, disrupts deep sleep cycles, and interferes with growth hormone production.
Causes of mouth breathing
1) Physical obstructions – enlarged tonsils, adenoids, deviated nasal septum and polyps, or narrow jaws.
2) Posture – poor posture, head forward posture or weak abdominal muscles.
3) Emotional Conditions/Anxiety – Chronic anxiety, alters your breathing – it tends to become shallow, rapid and through the mouth.
Treatment for Mouth Breathers
Breathing issues need to be properly managed. Things like Buteyko, mouth and tongue muscle retraining with myo-functional exercises and nose breathing exercises can assist with breathing retraining whilst you are awake. The issue is the breathing we do while asleep if a proper airway is not maintained during the time we spend in bed no amount of breathing retraining will help.
The key here is to support nighttime breathing and this can be done with dental appliances that help improve the airway and jaw position or by doing dental orthopaedics to widen the upper jaw which allows mouth breathers to breath significantly better through the nose.
I am currently undergoing treatment to widen my upper and lower jaw to correct my bite (you may have spotted the braces and spaces that I currently have between my teeth during this process) and I can tell you it has made a huge difference to the quality of my life and my sleep.
When the airway is improved patients breathe much better both at night and during the day and they report their headaches are relieved, jaw joint issues reduce and they have improved energy levels, better concentration and mood.
To book a jaw and airway assessment call us today and the team at Evolve will be happy to help.
Rachel is the founder and principal dentist at Evolve Dental Healing with over 30 years experience, practising holistically since 2001. Not your typical dentist, Rachel is a passionate opinion leader, challenging convention to empower people to make better dental and health choices, helping thousands to have healthy natural smiles. A respected writer and presenter on holistic dentistry, health and wellness it is Rachel’s mission to revolutionise the way people look at their dental health.